‘We have too many politicians and not enough farmers’ – Min. Allicock

− donates farming tools to Sebai, Canal Bank

By Synieka Thorne

DPI, Guyana, Friday, June 7, 2019

“In communities, we have a lot of politicians… but where are the farmers? Where are the mechanics? Where are the fishermen?”

This was the question directed to residents of Baramita, Sebai and Canal Bank in the Matarkai sub-District, Region 1, by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock, during a recent ministerial outreach.

Minister Allicock was accompanied by Minister of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams, Regional Member of Parliament (MP), Richard Allen and Special Assistant to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Martin Cheung.

Speaking on indirect benefits from the emerging oil and gas industry, Minister Allicock emphasised the need for the residents to start preparing for the funding that will be accrued from the sector.

“Let us think of how we develop together. The government is ready to partner with you – we can’t do it all, neither can you do it alone – but together we can do it… You are a rich people; there is a lot of opportunities, it just takes that leadership ability for you to move the process forward along with the support of your people,” Minister Allicock told the village leaders. 

At the meeting at the Sebai Primary School, the minister informed that the government has been investing heavily on empowering the Indigenous peoples, especially the youth. This, he said, is aimed at removing the ‘dependency syndrome’ that existed for 20 plus years among the Indigenous population.

The Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme; the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Hubs being installed in communities; the Hinterland Scholarship Programme (HSP); and the Green Enterprise Centre under construction in Annai are just a few of the opportunities being offered to the youths.

Additionally, the government has been investing in agro-processing through the Sun-Dried Tomato project in the North Pakaraima, Region 8; the construction of the Cassava Processing Facility in Kwebanna and the Crab and Fish processing facility in Smith Creek, Region 1. A processing facility will also be established at Bina Hill, Annai.

A number of communities have also benefited from funding through the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme, where groups received up to $8M for community projects. A number of Communities including Shulinab, Moco Moco and Hiawa have taken advantage of this programme.

However, Minister Allicock reminded that while the administration is willing to provide financial and technical support for communities to get involved in income-generating projects, there must be returns, residents must benefit equally, and there must be proper management and accountability at the level of the village council.

“This is not money to play with, this is taxpayers money, and there must be proper management and accountability… for too long village leaders have been squandering monies and can’t account for millions. This cannot go on,” he cautioned.

The Sebai and Canal Bank villages received farming tools, sport gear, haversacks, books and bottles for the children in need. The Baramita Primary school received a computer and printer, and the cultural group – a guitar.

Images: Leon Leung

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